My hometown is in Arakuzha, Kerala. But, I was born and brought up in Andhra and Telangana. I did my elementary schooling in Kothamangalam and have travelled a bit around the country. I am quite a foodie and I appreciate anything that´s made well.
Coming to my native state, I love Kerala cuisine for its variety and unique flavour. It is definitely an acquired taste and not everyone will take to it immediately like say, the more popular Punjabi or Andhra cuisine. I still remember the first time that I tried the ´Orange Chicken´ at Applebee´s Restaurant in California. I spat it out on my plate. It was deep fried chicken in the sweetest sauce that you can imagine. I just couldn´t fathom chicken being sweet. But, after a couple of tries, I have grown to love it. It does have a pungent after-taste thanks to the red chilli flakes after the sugary overload. Much like the very first time I tried the Odiya Tomato Khatta at my friend´s place. The tomato khatta or chutney was sweet with raisins and some fruits (grapes, pineapple etc). It was such a strange dish for me initially because I was only used to the fiery hot Andhra tomato chutney. But, with regular lunches at her place, I have grown to love the Ódiya Tomato Khatta´as well. Especially when paired with rice and mustard fish curry! In fact, I miss the Órange Chicken´and Ódiya Tomato Khatta´so much that I plan to recreate the magic here in my kitchen in Hyderabad soon.
Kerala is blessed with abundance in everything – lush greenery, colourful flora and fauna, misty mountains, serene backwaters, soothing waterfalls, romantic rainfalls, Ayurveda and more. I visited the state a few months back and it amazes how Kerala never fails to stun me every time with its raw, earthy natural beauty.
Here are 5 classic foods from God´s own country which are my personal favourites and I think you should try:
- Kerala breakfast: Kerala breakfasts are truly unique. None like any of the South Indian staples – Idli, Dosa, Vadai. Yes, you do have them and way much more. There´s Puttu made from the wild red rice and it tastes like heaven with Ethekka (Kerala variety of banana), hot ghee and sugar. You can also pair it with spicy Kadala (horsegram) curry. There´s Idiappam which is rice noodles. My mother used to stuff these with coconut and jaggery in the centre and it is simply delicious. Idiappam is also served without the sweet stuffing and with Kerala Egg roast or any savoury side-dish. There´s Palappam which pairs really well with Vegetable/Chicken/Mutton stew. There´s also the mildly sweet, fermented Vattayappam.
- Aviyal: This is a vegetarian´s delight. It is healthy, wholesome and soulful. Kerala is also known for its sombreness except for their love for flashy gold. I truly believe that the understated elegance of the Aviyal represents Kerala. Be it the homes, the dressing style or way of living ,Keralites like it keep it simple and minimalistic. The beauty of the Aviyal lies in its simplicity of preparation but richness in the fusion of tastes from the vegetable medley.
- Kappa with meen curry: Kappa is a tapioca main course dish which is best paired with spicy tangy fish curry. This main-course dish is such a refresher from the Kerala red rice and parottas. It´s a hearty meal in itself and you cannot stop licking your fingers in delight.
- Kerala snacks: There is such a wide range here as well – banana chips, tapioca chips, jackfruit chips, Kerala mixture, Kerala halwa in different varieties (black being the most popular), Pazaham Pozhi (Kerala banana fritters), Avalose podi and unda, Ela ada (steamed in banana leaf), Aval (sweet poha), Uniyappam (deep fried dumplings) and more.
- Kanji, Payar thoran, Pacha Manga Chammanthi with Pappadam: This is Kerala red rice gruel served with tempered green moong dal, raw mango chutney and Kerala papad or pappadams. In fact, vegetable thorans are another speciality from Kerala.
There is a wide variety of dishes to choose from whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian. There is so much to explore – Nadan Malabar, Kerala Muslim style of food preparation. Being a coastal state, you have a wide variety of delicious sea food offerings. Trust me, there´s so much more than these 5 listed items above.
Have you been to Kerala? How was your experience? I would love to know.
Author´s Note: This is written for the #SuperBloggerChallenge2018 #Instacuppa hosted by HealthWealthBridge.com, FashionableFoodz.com and AllAboutTheWoman.com. The challenge is from 15 Feb – 26 April 2018. The theme of Week 2 is ´Food & Drinks´. This article is based on one of the prompts given by the hosts for Week 2: ´5 classice food recipes in your state that visitors must try´. This article should not be re purposed, republished or use otherwise. The content herein is owned by the blogger but some of the images shown may be subject to copyright.
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I am a Tamilian settled in Kerala for the past twelve years. My entire family is extremely fond of Puttu with kadala. During onam time every year we have a small celebration in the office and we are served onam sadhya when we get to taste some very good Kerala dishes. Adai Aviyal is an extremely popular dish in other south Indian states too. I think Aviyal had its origin in Kerala and spread to other states. My eleven year old daughter is extremely fond of Pazhampuri which I have never come across in any other state. I was born into a strictly vegetarian family but I married a non-vegetarian and after marriage took to eating non-vegetarian food. I never fail to order prawns fry when I go out to have food with my family. I love the way they cook baby prawns in Kerala. Deep fried with plenty of onions. But last week my doctor told me that Prawns are full of fatty content and told me to avoid it. More the pity ! Wonderful article telling us about some of the best dishes in Kerala.
Hi Jai! That´s interesting to know. How could I forget the Pazhampori which is my husband´s favourite and the prawns (esp the curry) and fish fry are my favourites. Kerala is a sea food lover´s haven. I better pile up my plate and gorge on those prawns before the doc´s recommendations ;). I could have the Aviyal everytime. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Keep stoppin by! 🙂
I have been to kerala n tasted a few of these.
Hi Aritra! That´s lovely to know! Thank you and keep stopping by. 🙂
Wonderful post. Couldn’t agree more 🙂 discussions about our Kerala style of cooking always come down to these dishes. I’ve never tried an orange chicken but now you’ve got me wondering – closest I’ve come to a sweet chicken maybe some versions of Chinese styled honey gazed chickens but even they were not necessarily sweet.
Hi Dr.Roshan! So nice to get a validation from you about the authenticity of these dishes. I envy all those who stay there mainly for the easy access to these dishes. Orange Chicken can definitely be recreated in our Indian kitchen. Someday when I master this one at home, I´ll share the recipe 🙂 Chinese styled honey glazed chicken is close to the Orange Chicken but the latter has a more fresh sweet taste. Keep stopping by! 🙂
That’s a nice list! I am a maharashtrian but have quiet a few mallu friends and growing up have tasted a few dishes from the list!! I absolutely love the coconut Halwa, unniyappam and rose cookies! Avial was an onam staple at a dear friends place
Hi Neha! That is an interesting discovery. Karnataka and Kerala are neighbours afterall. 🙂 Oh yes, the Coconut Halwa and Rose Cookies are a fave as well. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Keep stopping by! 🙂
In my childhood, my neighbours were from Kerala. In fact they brought us our still maintained Idly cooker from there. Sunanda Aunty used to make finger licking food. And as i was already bored with everyday north Indian lunch ( daal, chawal) I used to have my lunch at Sunanda Aunty’s place very often. I still remember Idiappam and Aviyal. Your post made me nostalgic. Would call my uncle and aunty today. 😘
Hi Shipra! That is such a wonderful story to share! That´s the beauty about India – our diverse cultures, cuisines, languages and unity. 🙂 I love both the dishes you mentioned – Idiappam and Aviyal 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts..was such a pleasure. 🙂
Yes I have been to Kerala sone 10 years back though. I don’t remember the names of dishes but the ones served on the house boat stole my heart. Me and my husband, we both are vegetarians and the boat people took great care of that. We also tried banana chips. It was one memorable trip.
Hi Mann! That is such as interesting story. In fact, the picture on the post is shot inside the houseboat. They do serve some amazing food – lots of vegetarian dishes no doubt. The next time you go, please do use my blog as a reference to explore more dishes. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your experiences. 🙂
Nice post , Have never been to kerala but would love to and yes want to try it’s cuisine 🙂
Being in south India really enjoy Dosa & Idli but yet to try many more dishes here 🙂
Hi Ghazala! Kerala is a nice place to visit and if you ever go there, please do refer to my blog post for exploring food dishes. 🙂 They have their own special style of making Biryani as well which is yummy. It´s very different from the Hyderabadi style but it´s good as well. South Indian breakfasts are synonymous with Idi and Dosa..they are world famous especially the latter. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! 🙂
Wow! that’s almost an encyclopedia on Keral food. I have read so much about idiappams that I must try them sometime soon. I love banana chips too.
Hi Anupriya! There´s something for everyone there…depends on each one´s personal preference. There is so much more than this list. Would love to know your thoughts after you´ve tried Idiappams and more. 🙂 Thank you so much for the lovely words and for sharing your thoughts!
I am a great loved of South Indian Food . Especially Idli , Dose & Banana chips.
I am a greater lover of South Indian Food. Especially Dosa , Idli & Banana Chips
Hi Amna! That is lovely to know. I am a big foodie and I can anything under the sun as long as it´s made well. 🙂 You have a really cute looking site there…loved the design, name, logo, and overall look. Would have loved to read more…will be watching out for it. I would love to see your passions shine out…beauty, recipe tutorials 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and keep stopping by! 🙂
Kerala is God’s own country in the true sense, I realized it on our road trip to Vatakara and Kochi. In love with Pazhampoli …on our way to Kochi, I found it on the roadside small shop and it was a delight along with tea…I would love to visit again.. Nice roundup….
Hi Snehal! So glad to hear..Kerala was so rejuvenating..such a treat to my sore eyes and soul. I get worn down at times living in a concrete jungle. I yearn to be amongst nature. Kerala is a nature lover´s paradise. Ah, you make the ´chai-kada´(tea shops) sound so enticing…that too with Pazhampoli alongside. Me too…Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Keep stopping by! 🙂
You know I love travel, and I love food. Whenever we travel, we make sure we try authentic dishes of that particular area. And your post right away tempted me to plan next trip to Kerela .. as much its beautiful, equally delicious it seems
Hi Misha! Same pinch here..I love travel and food. And I love exploring the culture and food of that particular place as well. You must..and also let me know if you tried any of the food items in this list. Keep visiting and sharing your thoughts! 🙂
I am from Kerala and you made me so hungry! Glad you enjoyed authentic Kerala cuisine.
Hi Preethi! That is lovely to know. We should catch up some time over food, methinks when we do so…lol. There´ll be loads to chatter about for sure. I love it…grown up on it…it´s my soul food. 🙂 But again, I am a big foodie and I appreciate all cuisines and anything that´s made well. 🙂 It was such a pleasant surprise to have you here..my pleasure! Keep stopping by! Much love! 🙂
i loved this post I have to visit Kerala just to try these out.Unbelievably delicious post!
Thank you so much for the lovely feedback, Dr. Amrita! It feels awesome to see a post that´s close to your heart strike a chord with the readers. So good to have you here! Please do keep stopping by! Much love! 🙂
Thank you so much, Dr. Amrita for the kind words of appreciation. Oh you certainly must make a trip to the green state and I would love to know if you liked the local cuisine there. 🙂 #Superbloggerchallenge2018 #Instacuppa